In this instance, that lululemon is selling a ($128) bag that says “who is John Galt?”
I’ve refused to touch a lululemon product since the day I saw on their website that the founder was a big believer of “the Secret,” or the idea that you’ll get whatever you want in life if you can only think positive and tell the universe your wishes (the logical opposite of this idea then being that those who have shitty lives, like the poor or, say, HIV-positive children, are just negative nancies who haven’t bothered to tell the universe to send them a ferrari).
But this… I don’t even… huh?
Now, I read Atlas Shrugged in high school, and I loved its cheese factor – the trains, the sexy trenchcoats, the creepy rape. And as appealing as the idea of a meritocracy can be to an unpopular bookish teenager, I could never quite get behind Rand’s assertion that you just had to let all those who couldn’t cut it die in the streets. I mean, sure, there are some slackers in any society, it’s inevitable. But there are a lot of people who use social systems because they need them! And what about kids, who don’t really have the ability to alter their circumstances, at least in the short term? Nope! According to Rand, they’re all slackers and parasites, and should just crawl in a hole and die (seriously, I’m not exaggerating).
On the flip side, growing up in a very wealthy suburb made it clear to me that not all those who had wealth deserved it, or even had earned it legitimately. Some of them blatantly abused the system. Maybe all of Rand’s rich friends were upstanding types, but I knew that a lot of people’s parents were being a little creative in terms of the tax system. Of course, any good objectivist would applaud them, saying that they were just freeing themselves from the tyranny of the aforementioned parasites.
So, yoga, or at least lululemon, is now in favour of extreme selfishness as a virtue? Cheating the system? And killing the poor? At one point, with a giant crazy sound-wave ray-gun superweapon. Her books are nuts!
This is why all of that “be your best self” fluff makes me just a little uncomfortable – it’s self-absorbed, bordering on megalomania in some instances (we all know who I’m talking about). Of course, here I am, writing a blog about how great I am, with a big ol’ list of things that I want to do to in my life because let’s be real, I’m pretty special, so I should probably keep a lower profile in criticizing that kind of thing.
But! At the end of the day, I consider it just that – a list of stuff. It’s not an inspiring list of challenges that will scare me and thrill me and make me sprout from a golden cocoon metamorphosed into the shiniest butterfly you’ve ever seen. It’s not the one and only way to avoid mediocrity at all costs and change the world and leave my snowflake fingerprint on the soul of mankind. It’s just fun shit I want to do if I get around to it. I’m not taking it too seriously.
The cult of self-improvement is alluring. Sure, you’re fab, but you could be better. You could be your best self. That’s what Rand was ultimately getting at – only the best people deserve the best life, and if you weren’t trying hard enough, then off to the ray gun with you! It’s the way that gym memberships and designer handbags and fashion blogs and social media conferences are sold. Try harder, and spend more time and money improving every facet of your life, or you’ll end up a boring old average joe and nobody will read your blog (nobody reads my blog, so I’m prime ray-gun material).
Except that the whole concept is so earnest and lacking in any sense of irony, or even an ability to acknowledge that it is a little silly to be so concerned with your downward dog and the price of Rearden metal when there’s so much more going on in the world. If anything, I think that my biggest self-improvement goal for the next year is to stop being so concerned with improving my self, because I’m fine.
And to write an angry letter to whoever designed that bag.